Shikast (1953)

There is a story behind how I ended up watching this film last week.

I had first seen Shikast on TV years ago. I was a pre-teen, and didn’t much care for the film: it was too tragic, too angst-ridden, too lacking in entertainment, as far as I was concerned. For years afterwards, the only thing I remembered about the film was that it starred Nalini Jaywant and Dilip Kumar, and that through most of the film, Nalini Jaywant’s character sported a vivid crescent-shaped scar on her forehead. I had even forgotten the name of the film.

Nalini Jaywant in ShikastThen, sometime over the past year or so on my blog, mentions of this film began surfacing. I finally discovered what its name was, and blog reader Chris was even kind enough to provide the Youtube link for the film.

And yes, a rewatch—after so many years, after so much more experience of life, after what I hope is the attainment of some level of maturity, I think I can safely say that I understand Shikast a bit better than I did when I was 12 years old. It still remains a sad, intense film that makes me wonder at the motivations of some of the characters (in particular, the lead female character), but I can empathise—to some extent—with it more than I did all those years back.

The story of Shikast is simple. In fact, it left me not with a sense of how the plot moved or what followed what, but rather a feeling of what this film was about. It moves slowly, meanderingly, depending mostly on dialogues, emotions (often suppressed), and silence.

More or less, the story is something like this. It begins with a train steaming into the platform at a village named Kundan Garh. Cut to a bullock cart, moving away from the railway station, plodding past fields and down a dusty road. In the cart is Ram (Dilip Kumar), who’s just come by to the village after 7 years away in the city. His bhabhi (Durga Khote), the wife of Ram’s cousin Madho (KN Singh) has come to receive Ram at the station, and as they travel in the cart, the ease of their conversation reveals the level of comfort between them: more of a son and a mother than anything else.

Ram talks to his bhabhi
Not that this has been an exuberant reunion; it does not even appear, from the quiet conversation in the bullock cart, that Ram is at all happy to have come back to Kundan Garh. Quite the opposite.

The truth emerges, in snatches of conversation: 7 years ago, Ram had been deeply in love with Sushma (Nalini Jaywant) whose father was [Romeo and Juliet style, this] at daggers drawn with Ram’s own father. The match was forbidden by both fathers, and Sushma was married off elsewhere. Ram, unable to bear the strain of living on in Kundan Garh, left for the city.

Now, Ram has returned—but only for about 24 hours. The purpose of this brief visit is to finally sell off the land that Ram owns here (he’s part owner of the zamindari in Kundan Garh; Madho is another, and Sushma’s husband the third). That will, as far as Ram is concerned, finally sever the last tie he has to Kundan Garh—he will not be obliged any more to come to this village and see Sushma as someone else’s wife.

A past, raked up
Ram has been carrying on a correspondence with Madho, and it is to Madho that he is selling his land. Madho has promised to have all the documents ready for Ram to sign, so that his stay in Kundan Garh is not unduly long.

However, en route to Madho’s home, his bhabhi gives Ram a piece of news that is shocking, and unexpected: Sushma is now a widow, bringing up her son Munna (Master Kapoor) on her own, and looking after the zamindari to which Munna is the heir.

Sushma with her son, Munna
After they’ve reached home and Ram has met Madho, bhabhi makes a request: Ram should go and meet Sushma, express his condolences for the death of her husband. Ram balks at the suggestion; it would be too painful. But bhabhi is insistent. People will gossip if (rather, when) they discover that Ram, returning after so many years to Kundan Garh, did not even have the decency to visit Sushma and console her.

Madho talks to Ram
A reluctant Ram agrees, and goes to meet Sushma, only to be horrified by what he finds. Sushma is an embittered, nasty woman who guards her son’s inheritance so fiercely that she is ruthless with peasants who have not paid their taxes, or not paid back loans they’ve taken from her. She is the quintessential cruel zamindar: avaricious, merciless, and cold.

Sushma with the peasants
Ram is yet to see all these unpleasant facets of Sushma’s personality, but he’s heard enough from the villagers, and when he finally meets her—outside the local temple—he confronts her, asking her why she’s so harsh, so completely lacking in humanity. What ensues is a dialogue that provides a window into Sushma’s life:

Ram: “Bhagwaan ke charnon se tumhe yehi mila hai kya, Sushma?” (“Is this what you’ve received from God, Sushma?”)
Sushma: “Bilkul yehi mila hai. Zulm, musibat, dukh. Aur wohi main sab logon ko baant rahi hoon.” (“Yes, this is precisely what I’ve received. Torment, trouble, sorrow. And this is what I’m distributing to others.”)

Ram meets Sushma
Not long after, Ram gets to see for himself the evidence of Sushma’s heartlessness. A poor villager, Manglu, had taken a loan from Sushma, and has been neither able to pay it back, nor give her any interest, nor even pay his taxes. Sushma peremptorily orders her men to sell off everything that Manglu owns, and to bring her the proceeds. When even that is not enough to pay off Manglu’s debt to her, she orders that Manglu’s young daughter Sundariya be brought home to Sushma, to work in the house as a maid.

Manglu and Sundariya bemoan their fate
A crying Sundariya is being dragged away by Sushma’s men when Ram sees her. Concerned, he hears her account of what had happened. While Sundariya is taken away to Sushma’s, Ram hurries to Manglu’s hut, to find the man—a widower, and now without even his daughter—tied to one of the posts. Ram unties him, and hears more about how this state of affairs has come about.

Ram frees Manglu
By now, Ram has realized that things in Kundan Garh are really bad: Sushma and Madho, the two zamindars, have between them made life miserable for the villagers. To hand over his land to Madho and go away will be a betrayal of the trust of people like Manglu.
The next day, therefore, when Ram sits down with Madho to have a last look at the documents before he signs, he’s already in two minds. To sign or not to sign? Bhabhi and Sushma are both standing hidden behind the curtain of the door, waiting with bated breath to see what Ram’s decision will be.

Bhabhi and Sushma await Ram's decision
Ram picks up the pen, reaches out to sign—then hesitates. Sushma and Bhabhi pray, hoping against hope that Ram will see sense and not sign [Yes, that does sound a little odd in Sushma’s case, since she obviously seems to be getting along fine without Ram in Kundan Garh—but wait and see]. Eventually, with the suspense building, Ram does put pen to paper—just as Manglu’s daughter Sundariya (who, of course, is now Sushma’s maid) comes up behind Sushma.

Sundariya approaches Sushma
Sushma immediately turns and begins thrashing the girl and yelling at her, raising such a pandemonium that Ram is stalled. In that moment—of seeing Sushma beating a poor and defenceless girl—he also sees once again the sickening face of the tyranny of the rich. In disgust, Ram flings the pen away, and its sharp nib hits Sushma in the forehead, leaving her with a wound that will not go…

Sushma is wounded
…because Sushma will not let it go. Every time a scab begins to form, she pulls it loose.

Ram settles down in Kundan Garh, opening a small hospital (he’s a qualified doctor, it turns out) and a school. Not only does he teach the children of the village, he also teaches adults like Manglu—which worries Madho, who is canny enough to realize that educated peasants will be peasants who will stand up for themselves and will not let themselves be tyrannized.

Madho watches as Ram sets about trying to help the poor
On the one hand, there is Ram’s concern for the villagers and his distaste of what the zamindars of Kundan Garh are doing. This—his socialism—ties him to Kundan Garh. On the other hand, there is his still-extant love for Sushma. Despite his disapproval (even his disgust) for the way she behaves, his love for her will not die. And he knows all too well that nothing will ever come of it, because Kundan Garh is not the place where widow remarriage will be smiled upon. It will be best, eventually, for Ram and Sushma to go their separate ways.

But will they? Will Ram’s socialism win and make him stay on permanently? Or will he let his hopeless love triumph and make him flee?

What I liked about this film:

The music, by Shankar-Jaikishan. My two favourite songs from the film are the lovely Kaare badraa tu na jaa na jaa, bairi tu bides na jaa, and the bhajan Hum kathputle kaath ke.

Nalini Jaywant as Sushma. Her acting is superb, of course, but I also find myself fascinated by the characterization of Sushma. This is an illiterate village woman (even though she is wealthy), but she is not your quintessential Hindi film heroine. She is not self-sacrificing and sweet through most of the film. She is harsh, selfish, even cruel.

Nalini Jaywant as Sushma in Shikast
She does not bear up well under pressure (that dialogue I’d quoted earlier is a good example of how adversity has worked on Sushma; instead of making her noble and good, it has been—oh, so much more realistic—an experience that has embittered her).

And, there is her love for Ram, which is unusually multifaceted. On the one hand, she knows him well enough to know how he feels, what he likes and does not like. For example, she knows that if Ram becomes aware of the plight of the villagers, his own conscience will make him stay on in Kundan Garh.

Sushma and Ram
That is what reveals the other, rather more disturbing aspect of Sushma’s love for Ram: this is a selfish love. Sushma wants only that Ram should stay on in the village, even if she can never be his. Just the very idea that she will occasionally be able to see him or talk to him is enough incentive for her to employ whatever means she can to entice him to stay—and those means are not the coquettishness or seduction that another filmi heroine might have used. No; Sushma’s way is to thrash Sundariya, or have Manglu tied up, or to perpetrate other atrocities on the villagers.

And what eventually will she get out of making Ram live on in Kundan Garh? More pain, more heartbreak. Just as she keeps refreshing that wound on her forehead (a symbol of the sindoor in her maang, the sign of a marriage that can never take place?), Sushma keeps digging at the wounds in her past, intent on causing pain to herself.

Sushma worries at her scab, keeping her wound fresh
Not the model Hindi film heroine. Not even a very likeable heroine. Not even, really, much of a heroine. But an intriguing and very unusual character. She is enough reason in herself to watch this otherwise tragic film.

What I didn’t like:

The pace of the film flags every now and then, with scenes that just seem to be there to fill space between songs. I don’t mind long dialogues, but too much of Shikast goes by in repetitive encounters between Sushma and Ram, where nothing much happens beyond what has already happened: Sushma deliberately trying to provoke him, Ram getting provoked—and still continuing, grudgingly, to love her.

Ultimately, for me, this film worked in the sense that it showed good characterization (Sushma’s) and excellent acting (Nalini Jaywant and Dilip Kumar). Where it lacked was in the draggy screenplay, and in the way some things (what tyranny had Sushma have to bear that made her so bitter?) are never explained.

Shikast is available on Youtube, here. Beware; this is a ruthlessly edited print, with bits of scenes chopped off here and there.

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38 thoughts on “Shikast (1953)

  1. I’ve been wanting to see this film for such a long time, particularly for Nalini Jaywant. On my visits to Bombay could never find it and here it lies right below my nose on you tube!
    Thanks Madhu for this splendid review. A very in-depth review this is. From what you say Nalini’s character is much more multi-faceted than I could ever think. Very courageous of her to take up this role. She must have been very adventourous in her choice of her roles, like that of a spy in Samadhi, the seductress in Jadoo etc.
    Her character here somehow reminds me of Nargis’ in Jogan. I know that the two films are poles apart, but nevertheless…
    Thanks for the link and the review Madhu!

    • Yes, I agree that Nalini Jaywant seems to have been quite adventurous in her choice of roles (to the ones you’ve listed, I’d also add Kaala Paani, which has her in a very offbeat role for someone who wasn’t ‘traditional vamp’ like Helen).

      I haven’t seen Jogan; worth watching?

      • You’re right, Kala Paani had a good role for her.
        I saw Jogan ages back on DD. It is an off beat film. I didn’t like it much at that time. But the chemistry between Nargis and Dilip Kumar is good and the two main characters are very intriguing. Couldn’t fathom them then.
        Nargis’ role came across to me at that time as very frustrated and Dilip Kumar’s as a stalker type. Just like in Shiqast, one keeps wondering why he should fall in love with her. In Shiqast at least he has the past memories of having seen a better person in her. IN Jogan it just might be the forbidden fruit.

  2. I remember seeing this on DD as well. I remember the opening scene and the scene with the pen and Nalini plucking at her wound (ugh). But beyond this, I don’t remember it at all.

    It is very intriguing to have a cruel heroine. They are invariably so sweet and goody goody.

    And Nalini Jaywant. Wow. I can imagine her in a role like this.

    Lovely review, Madhu.

    • Thank you, Ava! Yes, this is an unusual film, and Nalini Jaywant makes for a refreshingly different heroine. If you get the time sometime (and are in the mood for a sad film!), do watch.

  3. So glad you watched (or rather rewatched) Shikast, Madhu. I finally have someone to discuss it with. :-) I loved Shikast (revealing title, no?) though it’s been years since I last watched it becuase as you note, it’s an intense viewing experience.
    You’ve mentioned two things I loved about the movie – Nalini Jaywant’s character and the music, but I also liked the director’s choices in telling the tale. Or more precisely, in *not* telling the tale. For example, the lack of a flashback detailing Ram and Sushma’s long ago romance, forced me to pay attention to their interactions in the present to get a sense of their closeness and depth of feelings for each other. I also appreciated the time and care taken to flesh out even minor characters – such as showing the destitute Manglu to be the most humane and large-hearted of all the characters in the film (In terms of his capacity to forgive in the face of “zulm, musibat, dukh”, I thought Manglu served more directly as the foil to Sushma’s character than Ram.).

    • And thanks to you, Shalini, for making the film available to me. I thought it outstanding. It’s also available as a free DVD download from memsaab’s Edu Productions page. And although it’s one of the heaviest dramas I’ve ever watched, it’s well worth the time and effort and provides the proof (if any was ever needed) why those two leads were among the greatest actors ever to come out of India. Like Ava (thandapani), I agree it’s good to have a different sort of heroine for once.

      • I didn’t know Shalini had provided the film. Thank you, Shalini, and thank you, Tom, for cleaning it up. Despite its heaviness, this was a film worth watching. If only for the fine acting and the unusual characterisation of the female lead character.

    • I agree with you about this being a intense viewing experience, Shalini! Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have watched it again if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was curious about it – I’d forgotten what it was all about, and I wanted to know more about that scar.

      I am a bit ambivalent about Manglu being a counterfoil to Sushma – I tend to agree more with Silverambrosia’s observation in this regard. But I find it interesting that Ram, despite being the ‘hero’, doesn’t really play as important a role in the scheme of things as the heroine does.

      Incidentally, what do you make of the title? I had been pondering that question when I finished watching the film, and couldn’t come to any definite conclusion about whose defeat was being referred to. My interpretation was that in the end, it was nobody’s victory – everybody lost out. Ram, Munna, Bhabhi, Manglu, and (of course) Sushma and Madho. All this angst and enmity and bitterness, and defeat all around.

  4. Oh, I’m fond of this film. Saw it some months ago on youtube too. Wanted to see Dilip Kumar and Nalini Jaywant together. It’s not a happy film, but knowing this to be a Dilip Kumar film of those days I was prepared.
    I didn’t know what to make of the ending though. That forehead wound was symbolic indeed.
    It was a very quiet film most of the time, and the Dilip -Nalini’s -son angle was interesting too.

    • “It was a very quiet film most of the time, and the Dilip -Nalini’s -son angle was interesting too.

      Very true. I found it unusual that a lot of the film – besides being ‘quiet’ in the sense of no high histrionics – was actually quiet literally too. Long silences, and very little background music during quite a few of the scenes.

      And the Ram-Munna angle, I think, was a set-up for what was going to come after the end of the film…

  5. I read your review of ‘Shikast’ earlier in the day, and was intrigued. It sounded like a very different kind of film, with a highly unconventional heroine, if one can call her that. I also found the symbolism of the scab which she continually removes, so it can never fully heal, striking. I just saw the film a few hours ago, and am pretty ambivalent about it. The distinguishing feature of the movie is intended to be the unique characterisation of Sushma, and while her actions are meant to provoke us and make us indignant, ultimately we are meant to sympathise with her; her predicament, her limitations, and her compulsions. The novelty of her actions sustain interest for the first half of the film, after that her modus operandi just got a bit tiresome. The point you raise about her responses is valid; she’s had it tough and accordingly feels little compunction about making it tough for others, but the sheer perversity of it all heavily cuts into whatever sympathy one may hold for her. At times her logic is “I may be giving these peasants hell in the short run, but I if make them miserable now, chances are that Ram will stick around, and this will be better for them in the long run”….this seems to be another motivation for many of her actions (especially later in the film)…along with keeping Ram near her. She doesn’t show much strength or courage later on, when it comes to testifying against Ram, or waiving her share of the lagaan….and this is kind of understandable, given her highly vulnerable position, despite the cruelty she can exercise…as made clear in the film she will be utterly ruined and destroyed if she says a word in Ram’s favour..but the ending where she’s blocking the overflowing water which may flood the entire village, just came across as a tacky plot device by which the writer/director sought to redeem this character in the eyes of the audience.
    She is also partly responsible for the rape and subsequent death of the child Sundariya, and at this point of the film I only had some choice four and five letter expletives for Sushma. Shalini writes that Manglu actually serves as the foil for Sushma, with the largeness of his heart and capacity to forgive. This is an interesting take on it, but I think they are just too unequally positioned to serve as foils for one another. Without taking away from Manglu’s extremely generous forgiveness, the poor guy has been trampled on and beaten down from birth; the deference element in how he conducts himself towards his employers is just too strong. And forgiveness to someone who has been indirectly complicit in rape and murder shouldn’t come so easily. Some would argue that Sushma didn’t know that Sundariya would be raped, but it was certainly forseeable enough, Manglu had strongly expressed his misgivings about Sundariya continuing to work in thier house. Sushma’s response was “I’m paying her wages, so get lost”. Forgiveness can be given in exchange for genuine repentance; Sushma’s few tears and horrified expression on viewing Sundariya’s corpse did not amount to that. She soon resumes her her whole ‘let’s persecute the villagers, and Ram might stay’ thing.
    With reference to Ram as well, I suppose there are kinds of love which can continually feed on the strength of an earlier association, or a cherished memory, but the dynamics of their relationship (while interesting because it’s so distinct) didn’t leave that strong an impact. Whenever he reproaches her, the kind of responses she gives are usually to the effect of ‘well that’s how I am’ or ‘I am what I am, what are you going to do about it?’ Moments like these provided opportunities for some really interesting repartee, or genuinely philosophical exchanges….apart from the lines you quoted (about her recieving pain, and so giving others the same) there was little of this in the film….but it isn’t a badly written film, the writing is decent enough (it just could have been significantly better in terms of the ideas encompassed within the script), and the performances of both the leads are good.

    Sounds like I’ve just had said a lot a negative things about the film (which I kind of have, but it’s more to do with the characterisation of Sushma)….but there are good things about ‘Shikast’ as well….the originality of the core story and the uniqueness of characterisation (even if it’s not totally satisfactory) is commendable in itself and makes the film worth viewing….it’s pretty unusual for me to be so intrigued on hearing the story of a film, and to then watch it on the very same day…all said it’s a flawed but solid attempt at something different and interesting.

    • “ultimately we are meant to sympathise with her; her predicament, her limitations, and her compulsions.

      Are we? I don’t know. Frankly, I found her – as you also point out, later – to be not a sympathetic character. I find her selfishness, her utter lack of consideration for her other people (except possibly Munna), unbearable. Sushma, for me, is a manipulative woman, and I really don’t like her interpretation of love – she isn’t even really thinking that she’s blackmailing Ram into staying on in Kundan Garh.

      I didn’t like that ‘redemption’ of Sushma in the climax either – too contrived, and it seemed pretty much a compromise. Sushma, in the time and place she was set in, couldn’t have hoped to marry Ram – so this is the only recourse for her. Not only does she give her life for the villagers, she also manages to get out of this sticky romantic situation in a martyrish way.

      Okay, I must admit to one thing: I thought Sundariya died of plague, not rape? Maybe I’m wrong, but the way I understood it was that when the village was caught in the grip of plague, Sushma forced Sundariya to stay on and attend to that man who was dying of plague. Manglu, when he came to plead with Sushma to let Sundariya go, was of course shooed off – and Sundariya contracted the disease and died.

      I do agree with you about Manglu’s ‘generosity’, though, and what it stems from. He’s too downtrodden, too used to being subservient, to actually think that he can strike back against Sushma and her ilk.

    • Yes, not a bad song, though I thought it paled in comparision with the two I’ve mentioned. But that’s subjective, and I’m glad you mentioned it. Here, for the benefit of those who haven’t heard it, is the song:

  6. This was a complex story and quite unlike the usual Dilip Kumar film of the time. He is reported to have said that Nalini Jaywant was the most talented actress he had ever worked with; what a shame they never came together again. The film was directed by Ramesh Saigal whose ouvre has many other lefty films (Phir Subah Hogi). This film could have easily gone the Devdas way but didn’t. For me the best song is Jab Jab Phool Khile, sung soulfully by both Lata and Talat. Very unlike S-J’s other songs of the time

    • Yes, it was a shame that Dilip Kumar and Nalini Jaywant never acted together again – they were really good in this, and I thought her acting was superb.

      I must admit I have watched only a handful of Ramesh Saigal’s films – this one, Samadhi, Phir Subah Hogi (what wonderful songs that film had!), and Shola aur Shabnam – which was quite forgettable. Railways Platform is one that I have been meaning to get hold of for a long time now.

      Since you’ve mentioned Jab jab phool khile, let me link to that:

      Beautiful song, I agree. And not typical SJ, as you point out.

  7. I think that the filmmaker’s intended that we ultimately sympathise with Sushma or retain some respect for her, because of the ending through which she is supposed to redeem herself, and also her dual motives at times. While she is depicted as cruel and capricious, the film also continually brings out her vulnerability as a widow…she can badly hurt a certain set of people, but she is also at the mercy of her relations.

    About the plague thing, you’re right, it is plague and not rape. I missed out on the plague thing…when the hospital filled up I was wondering why…I was thinking there may have been a mass persecution campaign orchestrated by Sushma, or more likely her relative (which did seem a bit odd). When the guy residing at Sushma’s place grabbed Sundariya’s hand, I assumed it was rape because of the terror with which she responded. Just watching that part right now, I realise that he was delirious….and Sushma remains in a good part responsible for Sundariya’s death.

    • “While she is depicted as cruel and capricious, the film also continually brings out her vulnerability as a widow…she can badly hurt a certain set of people, but she is also at the mercy of her relations.

      Very true. The way her mausi and Madho literally dictate to her is evidence of that. What I did find unusual was that even though she never cowers before them, Sushma does let them, to some extent, have a say in what she does.

      And even if it was plague Sundariya died of, Sushma is certainly responsible. If she hadn’t insisted on the girl looking after the dying man, Sundariya may have never caught the illness.

  8. I am a bit down and out, suffering from some dental problems, no prizes for guessing what that entails? Painful visits to the dentist of course, as a result my Gumnaam post is taking a beating. All the same I took out some time to read this review and also read with some interest the comments of your readers. Would I like this film? I am not too sure. I like Nalini Jaywant, I felt she had a childlike quality in her, therefore it would be interesting to see how she approaches such a ruthless character. I do have a problem with Dilip Kumar, I just do not like him, I always avoid seeing his films, had it been his brother Nasir Khan then it would have been different. But all the same I am intrigued, time willing I will see the film, you and readers have managed to evoke my interest— Shilpi

    • Oh, poor you, ShilpI! I have had my share of dental problems, and I know how painful it can be. :-( Do get well soon!

      Oddly enough, I’ve never thought of Nalini Jaywant as ‘childlike’, except possibly in Naujawan where she’s very girlish and giggly. I think she was a very versatile actress – her roles in this film, Munimji and Kaala Paani are three very different types of characters, and all equally believable.

      Shikast isn’t a happy film at any point, but I do think it’s worth seeing, if only for Nalini Jaywant. (Dilip Kumar, in my opinion, is actually upstaged by her – so if you don’t much like him anyway, that should be no problem!)

      • Thanks for those kind words Madhu, yes I would like to see the film but right now things are a bit painful, besides I am in a bit of dilemma as far as Gumnaam is concerned, I have loads of memories to share and I am wondering what to share and what to delete, that post has been delayed enough. So I guess Shikast will have to wait for a while but once I see it I will be in a better position to discuss it, the story does seem to be off the beaten track.

        • “I am wondering what to share and what to delete

          Oh, please don’t delete anything! Gumnaam is quite a favourite of mine – such a thoroughly entertaining film, that I wouldn’t want to miss a single anecdote. If you think the post is growing too long, you can always do it in two parts. But please don’t deprive us. :-)

      • This is a really wonderful film which sadly did not get the fame it deserved. I totally agree with you that the masterpiece here is Nalini Jaywant. In fact in one of his interviews Dilip Kumar himself said that he would get stunned at the way NJ would silently rehearse and steal the attention away from all including him. Unfortunately the original print of this film doesn’t exist anymore and we have to be satisfied with these heavily cut versions. Even some songs do not exist anymore.

        • That’s sad to hear, that the original print just doesn’t exist any more. :-( I had been hoping that the version I’d seen happened to be one edited just for the video production, and that the entire print did exist in some archives (as is the case with films like Teesri Manzil).

  9. Like you, I watched this film on TV and got thoroughly put off by the unending misery that followed. Also, I never understood what made Dilip Kumar go on loving her. With the passing of the years, I can understand a love that never dies, even if one wants it to. Not that that makes me like the characters any more. The acting by the leads was fantastic, and that, to me, was the only saving grace of the film.

    Incidentally, thinking about Dilip Kumar’s role in this, it just struck me that none of the triumvirate did the typical ‘hero’ role, except rarely. They did not seem to mind being flawed.

    Your review was rivetting as usual, but I doubt I will be able to sit through this again. :)

    • “Incidentally, thinking about Dilip Kumar’s role in this, it just struck me that none of the triumvirate did the typical ‘hero’ role, except rarely.

      Except possibly Dev Anand, who seems to me more inclined to do the ‘typical hero’ roles than RK or Dilip Kumar did. While he did act in films like Kala Bazaar, Baazi etc, he also did films like Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Munimji, Nau Do Gyarah, Jewel Thief, Solvaan Saal. RK and Dilip, in comparison, opted for many more distinctly non-heroic roles.

      Coming to Shikast, I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t sit through it again for at least a few years. This time I watched it because I’d forgotten all of it except for the scar.

  10. Shikast is one of my favourite films, as is Jogan. Do watch it: like Shikast, it has great performances.

    More than Jogan, Shikast reminds me of Devdas – both feature childhood sweethearts whose love never dies. One of the reasons I love Jab Jab Phool Khile so much is that the lyrics convey the bond between Raj & Sushma beautifully

    Though Sushma’s cruelty is hard to swallow, she behaves no differently from Madho or any other zamindar. Dilip Kumar is an educated & enlightened character who has shed the typical attitudes of his class. She hasn’t

    • Hmm. I hadn’t thought about it, but yes – there is a definite resemblance to Devdas, though I somehow prefer Shikast to the unrelenting gloom that is Devdas. I’ve watched that film only once, and it was more than enough for me. Too, too depressing.

      I shall certainly look out for Jogan. Thanks for reinforcing that recommendation.

      • The resemblance with devdas is due to the fact that this film too is based on a sarat chandra novel-palli samaj. Shikast is uneven, gloomy but still a good watch, though in my opinion, the original novel is better.

        • Raunak, Raunak. With every comment of yours, you add another movie for me to watch or another book for me to read. Only the other day, I’d been cribbing over the fact that I’d just read a really badly translated version of Chokher Bali, and my sister was suggesting I try reading Hindi translations of Bengali literature, rather than English translations – and she suggested Sharath Chandra. I don’t remember actually ever having read a Sharath Chandra novel, so I was toying with that idea, anyway… maybe this?

          • Yes, your sister is absolutely right about Hindi translations being better then English ones. As for Sarat Chandra, I would say that if one is to read only one novel of his in one’s lifetime, then that must be ‘Srikanta’.

              • It’s easily available. Also Srikanta is very important , both from the literary perspective and cinematically, as this novel, by Guru Dutt’s own admission, served as the inspiration behind his Pyaasa.

                • “this novel, by Guru Dutt’s own admission, served as the inspiration behind his Pyaasa.

                  I hadn’t known that. I do remember watching – very long ago, on Doordarshan – a TV adaptation of Shrikant (and liking it) – though now I’ve completely forgotten it.

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